Washington: A Chinese national has been sentenced to 30 months in jail in the US for smuggling high- tech military hardware, including sophisticated night vision and thermal imaging scopes.
Kan Chen, 26, of Ningbo, China, in Zhejiang Province, was arrested on June 16, 2015 on the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan.
He pleaded guilty to the offenses listed above on March 2, 2016. According to court documents, from July 2013 through his arrest in June 2015, Chen led illegal export of over 180 export-controlled items, valued at over USD 275,000, from the US to China.
Over 40 of those items purchased for more than USD 190,000 were sophisticated night vision and thermal imaging scopes, which are designated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations as US Munitions List defense articles and can be mounted on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and used for military purposes at night, the Department of Justice said.
He purchased the devices via internet and telephone and had them mailed to several reshipping services in New Castle, Delaware, which provide an American shipping address for customers located in China, accept packages for their customers and then re-ship them to China.
In order to further conceal his illegal activity, Chen arranged for the re-shippers to send the devices to several intermediary individuals, who in turn forwarded the devices to Chen in China, the Department of Justice said.
During the course of this conduct, Chen made numerous false statements in order to knowingly and willfully evade the export control laws of the US, including by undervaluing the shipments, unlawfully avoiding the filing of export information with the US government, indicating that he was a natural-born US citizen and providing the address of the reshipping service as his own.
"No matter their nationality, those individuals who seek to profit by illegally exporting sensitive US military technology will be prosecuted," said US Attorney Charles M Oberly III in a statement.
During the sentencing hearing, the government noted the lethality of these items when combined with weapons designed for use on a battlefield.
For example, the ATN ThOR 640-5x, 640x480-Inch Thermal Weapon Scope, 100 mm, which Chen purchased for USD 8,428.39, is described by the manufacturer as "an ideal product for force protection, border patrol officers, police SWAT and special operations forces providing them the tools they need to be successful in all field operations both day and night.
Uncooled thermal imaging cuts through dust, smoke, fog, haze, and other battlefield obscurants."
These rifle scopes, therefore, are weapons of war, and Chen's smuggling and subsequent sale of these military-grade items outside of the US directly undermines our nation's national security interests, the statement said.